Communications & Marketing

Stress is normal, or, deep breaths everyone

Librarians, we have a problem. The reaction to the CNBC article, particularly the martyr-themed #librarianstress commentary, is a public relations disaster. We suck at this folks. And we really cannot afford to do this to ourselves.

Yes, frustrating and difficult situations happen in libraries, but just because your job includes stress does not make it stressful. It makes it normal.

Librarianship is not the only profession to face challenges, changes, and misconceptions. (The article’s author, who also said being a jeweler isn’t stressful, has obviously never met a bride.) I came to librarianship from newspaper journalism, another radically changing profession, and while the sense of worry is still present, the outer focus is on the new things different newspapers are trying to evolve. The constant threat of digital is always present, but it’s reality — nothing more, nothing less. This constant state of crisis in librarianship has to end, and the negative energy needs to be weeded from our emotions. It’s not fair to our colleagues, it’s not fair to our communities, and it’s certainly not fair to ourselves.

I easily have the least stressful job in my family. My younger brother recently passed his air traffic control performance verification, and when I was talking to him earlier today, he made the most perfect comment about the overwhelming stress of this test (the final training exam, essentially): “That’s your life. If you don’t like it, find something different.”

The stresses of librarianship are what they are. Our patrons, our funding struggles, and our reality will not go away just because we don’t like them or because someone sees them differently. Freaking out gets us nowhere. It’s up to us whether we can stop taking the little things seriously and focus on staying positive instead.

(All that said, keep the sarcasm coming. It’s good for us. And if someone can tell me where I’m supposed to shelve Alexander McCall Smith, please help!)

2 thoughts on “Stress is normal, or, deep breaths everyone”

  1. I was just massively disappointed that instead of doing actual *research* about being a librarian, the author resorted to tired old stereotypes about having “quiet” and being able to “read all the time”. FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, MAKE THE STEREOTYPES STOP. I wish he had actually shadowed the careers before he made his decisions and had written something intelligent about it. He did do an update/addendum to the professor one after it was pointed out that his statement about the time a professor’s job requires was massive fallacy.

    When did reporters stop doing fact checking and research before writing/publishing a story?!

  2. When they started being asked to churn out content and not actually report. The story was awful. That was the quality of stuff I wrote in middle school. I’m not disputing the shoddiness of it.

    But I’d be curious on how many people whose professions were not on the list even noticed. To me, this is something to shrug off and a call to make sure we’re marketing ourselves well all the time rather than just responding to what others are putting out there.

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